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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
Level of description
collection level
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
74 fiche


Name of creator(s)

Commander, US Naval Forces in Europe (COMNAVEU); Director of Naval History, US Navy

Administrative / Biographical history

This collection includes microfilmed documents compiled by Peter Nash, a post-graduate student in the Department of War Studies, King's College London, from the Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC, relating to US naval operations in Europe, 1941-1946. In 1946, the Commander, US Naval Forces Europe, submitted to the Director of Naval History, draft chapters of an official history of US Naval Forces in Europe that came under the command of the Special Naval Observer, London; the Commander US Naval Forces in Europe; and, the Commander US 12 Fleet. US naval representation in Britain evolved rapidly from 1941 to 1946, and eventually resulted in a close collaborative effort between the Royal Navy and the US Navy. In 1940 US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt arranged to exchange fifty over-age destroyers for US rights to establish naval bases in British possessions in the Western Hemisphere. With the ABC-1 Plan, Jan-Mar 1941, American, British, and Canadian representatives agreed that if the US entered the war a joint strategy would be pursued in which Germany would be the prime target. The Plan also provided for a US Northwest Escort Group and for US submarines for Gibraltar. Anglo-American naval strategy unified further still with the Navy Basic War Plan, or Rainbow 5. This plan envisaged the US working closely with Britain to effect the decisive defeat of Germany and Italy, while a defensive strategy would be maintained in the Pacific until success against the European Axis powers had been assured. Advanced by US Rear Adm Kelly Turner, the plan formulated the Atlantic-first argument and thus ensured a close US co-ordination with Britain. In addition, Rainbow 5 gave detailed directions for the deployment of US forces to their respective military stations if the US entered the war against Germany. For example, a Special Naval Observer in London was designated the 'Prospective Commander of US Naval Forces in North European Water' on 11 Mar 1941 and from Apr-Sep 1941, a series of Special [US] Naval Officers were posted throughout Britain to liase with British naval officers on matters of naval co-operation and security. With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941, elaborate plans for US naval bases in Britain were modified and many of the forces originally assigned to Europe were directed to the Pacific. Throughout 1942, however, Anglo- American discussions decided the policy control and command structure for the Allied powers in the common struggle against Germany. The Combined Chiefs of Staff would be established in Washington, DC, to determine grand strategy, and high ranking officers would represent the US whilst stationed in London. On 17 Mar 1942, Adm Harold Raynsford Stark was detached as the Chief of Naval Operations and assigned as Commander, [US] Naval Forces in Europe. As Chief of Naval Operations since 1939, he had taken the initiative in bringing about the military staff conversations between the US and British Chiefs of Staff in 1941 and was therefore considered by Adm Ernest King, Commander in Chief, US Fleet (later Commander in Chief, Atlantic Command), the most logical choice for liaison duties in Britain. From 1942 to 1946, COMNAVEU closely determined naval strategy and operations with Admiralty and created an effective diplomatic and military liaison office, which would represent US and Allied forces in Europe. This collection includes microfilmed documents from an official history of US naval administration in the European theatre. It was written by historians selected by COMNAVEU and the Director of Naval History, based primarily on official American and British documents collected and disseminated during the war. When completed in 1946, copies of the history were sent to the US Secretary of the Navy; the US Chief of Naval Operations; the Allied-US Naval Attaché in London (ALUSNA); Commander [US] Naval Forces in Europe (COMNAVEU); Commander [US] Naval Forces Germany (COMNAVFORGER); and Commander [US] Naval Forces Mediterranean (COMNAVMED).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC, via Peter Nash.

Content & structure

Scope and content

This microfilm collection contains copied official documents relating to US naval operations in Europe and US naval liaison duties in Britain, 1941-1946. Many of the microfilmed documents are official reports sent to the Historical Section, US Navy, in 1946, for the purposes of compiling an official history. The collection includes material relating to the US naval administration, 1940-1946; the US Navy Special Observer missions in London, 1940-1946; the decision to post Adm Harold Raynsford Stark as Commander, [US] Naval Forces in Europe (COMNAVEU); COMNAVEU organisation and personnel, 1940- 1946; operational reports concerning [US] Naval Forces in Europe (COMNAVEU) and associated commands of COMNAVEU, including US 12 Fleet, 1941-1946; US naval intelligence and naval attaché duties; units under the command of COMNAVEU, including task forces and amphibious forces; supply and logistical activities, 1940- 1946; the history of Lend-Lease and Reciprocal Aid in Britain; the history of US naval bases in Britain; logistical planning for US Naval Forces in Europe for cross- channel operations; COMNAVEU's role in the planning and execution of Operation OVERLORD, the Allied invasion of France, 6 Jun 1944, and Operation NEPTUNE, the air and land assault on France, Jun 1944, including the naval bombardment of Axis forces and the use of US Navy amphibious forces to assault the beaches at Normandy, France assaults; a history of US Naval Task Forces in France, Germany, the Azores, the Mediterranean, and Italy, 1945-1946; relations with US Navy Pacific Command, 1941-1946.

System of arrangement

Arranged into sections according to subject and chronologically therein. Sections include Administrative History; Miscellaneous and Staff Sections; COMNAVEU Supply and Logistics Activities; COMNAVEU-Operation NEPTUNE; US Naval Task Forces and Groups in Europe; Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas; post-war COMNAVEU Narrative History of US Naval Forces in Europe.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be provided for research use only. Enquiries concerning the copyright of the original material should be addressed to Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard, 901 M Street SE, Washington, DC, 20374-5060.

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

This Summary Guide, and in hard copy in the Centre's reading room.

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC

Related units of description

The Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives also holds microfilmed copies of documents relating to US Naval Operations in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, 1940-1955 (Ref: GB KCLMA MF 866-869).



Compiled Oct 1999

Description control

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

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  • Amphibious warfare
  • Armed forces
  • Diplomacy
  • Foreign relations
  • International conflicts
  • International relations
  • Maritime warfare
  • Military engineering
  • Military liaison
  • Military operations
  • Military organizations
  • Operation Neptune (1944)
  • Operation Overlord (1944)
  • Organizations
  • Seas
  • State security
  • War
  • Warfare
  • Wars (events)
  • World War Two (1939-1945)
  • World wars (events)

Personal names

  • Stark, Harold Raynsford, 1880-1972, US Admiral

Corporate names

  • RN, Royal Navy
  • US Navy


  • Azores, Atlantic Ocean
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • London, England
  • Mediterranean Sea, Seas
  • Normandy, France
  • Oceans
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Portugal

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